The Benefits of No A/C

Our HVAC unit stopped working last October.  We decided not to try to fix it or replace it.  It would’ve taken quite a chunk of change out of our debt repayment plans.  Plus, we’d been working steadily on learning to produce and stop just consuming on the homestead in so many ways: growing more food, raising some of our own livestock, composting, minimizing electric usage, etc.  So ending or dependency on a propane HVAC system seemed like a natural step.  We have plenty of wood, so we knew we could stay warm in the winter.  Just from not using the propane and electricity to run the HVAC we were saving about $300 (!!!!) a month in the winter.

But the summer.  What would summer be like?  We had done a summer without A/C before.  When we were first married.  We had just bought our first house and discovered the AC unit didn’t make it more than two weeks into the summer before needing to be replaced.  Had to do some money saving before we could take care of it.  So we did without.  It wasn’t too bad.  But we both worked full-time.  We really weren’t home much.  And going to an air cconditioned office and coming home to a humid and warm house made it seem pretty steamy and we were VERY excited when we finally were able to get it replaced.

And we didn’t have kids.  It was just ourselves we were ‘inconveniencing’

So fast forward a while…three kids and a farmhouse later and we faced down a steamy, humid Missouri summer head on.  Au natural.  And I was left thinking….

That was it?  😉

Sure.  There were some hot days.  Actually, there was a two week stretch in July where the temperatures hovered in the 90s, a few right at 100, with nights not giving much relief.  To be fully honest, the last two days of the stretch we brought up the window A/C unit that was in the basement to put in our bedroom because it was just sweltering upstairs at night and nobody could sleep.  BUT….really, we could’ve camped out downstairs where it was easily 20 degrees cooler.  Because, honestly, the first floor of the house stayed pretty comfortable.  Not saying it was 65 down there.   But it wasn’t 100.  It just seemed much easier to move the AC upstairs for a couple of days then drag mattresses downstairs for the same amount of time.

It was interesting to see how our bodies had adapted to life with more temperature variation.  The hot really didn’t bother me.  Now, going into air conditioned businesses bother me.  They are too cold!  And the air is so dry!  My skin seems healthier.  I can’t remember the last time I needed lotion.  And I can’t help but think a good sweat is probably good for your body now and again 😉

And for those couple of just dangerously hot days where the heat index broke 100, we’d spend the hottest part of the day somewhere else.  There were maybe 3 days where we felt it was a good idea to spend the day somewhere cooler whether visiting family or taking a day trip to town.  The other 90 days of summer were fine.

Plus, life took on this nice rhythm.  Get up earlier and get work down before it gets too hot.  Nap or quiet time in the afternoon when it gets too hot.  Play outside in the evenings while you open the windows back up and usher in the cool air before bedtime.  It just seemed to work out.  And make sense.

And it was cheaper.  Cost us, basically, nothing.  My utility bill was the same in July as it was in April.  We did run a window fan that sucked hot air out of the upstairs to aid circulation and a box fan.  Just those little things seemed to make a big impact on the feel of the temperature inside on the hottest days.  But they use minimal energy.  No shocking bill surprises from running a unit.  No repair costs.  No Freon refills or shorted out this or that.  Just life, and family, and a little bit of planning ahead for the sweltering days.

And, as always, using a little bit less electricity is always a little bit better for our lovely planet!